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How to Work With Images in PowerPoint (Complete Guide)

This post is part of a series called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
What Are the Right Dimensions (Size) for Your PowerPoint PPT Slides?
How to Quickly Edit PPT Slide Background Graphics Using PowerPoint

PowerPoint presentations contain all types of content: text, video, audio, and images. 

Slides that are simply text need some variety to hold your audience's attention. Whether it's a photo, illustration or graphic, Powerpoint has editing tools to import and edit your image files.

Envato Logo Image Edited in PowerPoint
In this logo, I removed the background using PowerPoint's built-in tool and added a drop shadow to contrast it off the background - no other tools required.

Images often need cropping, resizing, and more tweaks to fit in a presentation. Apps like Photoshop have image editing tools, but they're difficult to learn.

The good news is that PowerPoint has image editing essentials inside the app. You can add images to your presentation and edit them without even opening a separate photo editor.

Here are the PowerPoint image tools you'll learn to use in this tutorial:

  • Resizing. Scale an image in PowerPoint to the correct size for your slide.
  • Rotating. Flip an image to face the correct direction, including mirroring it horizontally or vertically.
  • Cropping. Select a part of an image in PowerPoint to remove.
  • Removing picture backgrounds. If your image has a white background and you want to remove it, PowerPoint has a tool to remove backgrounds. This will create transparent images in PowerPoint. 
  • Image effects. Add color tints and adjust image saturation (including black & white) inside your PowerPoint presentation.

How to Quickly Work With Images in PowerPoint (Watch & Learn)

This screencast will show you the complete set of PowerPoint's image editing tools. I'll teach you the steps from importing a picture onto your slide to correcting and editing it.


Source: We use this photo of a business team from Envato Elements royalty free photo archive in the video above.

Read on for more tips on how to edit and work with images in PowerPoint.

How to Insert Images in PowerPoint

Let's get started by adding images to our PowerPoint presentation. There are two main ways to insert images into your PowerPoint; you can simply paste an image from your clipboard, or import a picture from a file on your computer.

1. Paste Images

Pasting an image into PowerPoint is as simple as it sounds. Start by copying an image you find online to your clipboard (right click and choose "Copy" or "Copy Image.")

After copying, select the slide that you want to add the image to. To paste the image, use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl / Cmd + V), or right click and choose the picture icon to paste your image in.

Right click and paste picture into PowerPoint slide
You can right click on a slide and choose Picture from the paste options to paste in your image.

2. Insert Images From Your Computer

My preferred way to add images to a PowerPoint is to first save them to my computer, and then insert them into the PowerPoint file. This helps keep track of all the files in your presentation, and you can even multi-select files and insert them at the same time.

To Insert from your computer, go to the Insert tab on PowerPoint's ribbon. Click on the Pictures button to open the file browser.

Now, browse to where your images are stored and click on them in the file browser.

Insert Image PowerPoint using Pictures window
Choose Insert > Pictures on PowerPoint's ribbon, then browse to and choose the images you want to insert.

Click on Insert to add them to your current slide. 

You can also click on the dropdown arrow next to Insert and choose between additional hidden options. These are advanced ways for working with images:

  • Insert. This is the standard option for inserting pictures, which puts the image file inside your PowerPoint. It increases the size of your presentation file, but works even when you send it to others.
  • Link to File. This simply links to the original file, so you'll need to keep it on your computer for the PowerPoint to display it correctly.
  • Insert and Link. If the original file changes, the version on your PowerPoint slide will update as well.

Now that you've got your image inserted into the presentation, it's time to check out the picture editing tools.

How to Resize and Tilt Images in PowerPoint

When you select an image in PowerPoint, white circles will appear on the corners of the picture. Resize an image by grabbing one of these circles and pulling it until the image is the desired size.

By default, PowerPoint locks aspect ratio when resizing an image. This means that it will prevent stretching when you resize it. 

Resize Image PPTX
Resize and format picture in PowerPoint.

If you want to turn this off, you'll need to right click on the image and choose Size and Position. A menu will open on the right side of PowerPoint, and you'll need to untick the Lock aspect ratio box.

Notice in the screenshot above that you can also type in an exact size for your image on the new menu. If you know the exact dimensions you need for an image, this feature really comes in handy.

You can also tilt an image by grabbing the circular arrow icon above an image and pulling it left to right.

Quickly tilt images in PowerPoint
With an image selected, click on the circular arrow above an image and pull it left or right to rotate the image.

How to Rotate an Image in PowerPoint

Here's how to rotate an image when it's facing the wrong direction. You can rotate an image 90 degrees at a time in PowerPoint using the Rotate option on the Picture Tools menu.

Again, make sure that you have the image selected and are on the Picture Tools > Format menu. The Rotate button is on the right side of the ribbon options. Choose Rotate Right 90 or Rotate Left 90 to rotate an image.

Rotate image in PowerPoint
On the same Picture Tools menu, use the Rotate dropdown to rotate or flip an image.

You can also Flip a picture, with the Flip Vertical and Flip Horizontal options. Think of these as "mirroring" an image. If you have backwards text in an image, you can use the flip command to correct it.

How to Crop a Picture in PowerPoint

Cropping an image inside of PowerPoint is a breeze. With an image selected, make sure that you're working on the Picture Tools tab on the PowerPoint ribbon, and click on Crop.

Crop in PowerPoint
Crop an image by selecting it and choosing Format > Crop on PowerPoint's ribbon.

The Crop option will put black handles on the corner and edges of the image. To crop the image, grab these handles and pull them to select the part of the image you want to keep.

When you pull these handles, PowerPoint dims the area of the image that will be cropped out. Move these handles around until you have exactly the area you want selected, and then press Crop to lock your final crop in.

Crop pictures in PowerPoint
Grab and reposition the black handles on the edges of an image to select the final crop area in PowerPoint.

If you want to re-crop the image, simply select it and re-enter the crop menu. You can even re-select portions of the image you previously cropped out.

How to Remove Image Backgrounds in PowerPoint

One of he handiest picture tools in PowerPoint is the ability to remove an image background. You've probably run into a situation like this before: you have a graphic like a logo or icon, with a solid color background.

Take the screenshot below, for example. If I want to use the Envato logo graphic with no white background, I can use the Remove Background feature.

With an image selected, click on the Remove Background button on the Picture Tools menu.

Remove Picture Background in PowerPoint
Let's remove the white space from this logo with the Remove Background feature.

PowerPoint shows a new view where you can set the points to remove and keep in the image. The pink area shows the part of the image that PowerPoint will remove as the background.

PowerPoint takes a first guess at which areas to remove. You can refine the selection by using the Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove option on the ribbon. 

Click on those options, then set the points on the image that you want to keep and remove. PowerPoint will adapt to remove the areas you show it. Use the two options to show PowerPoint exactly what to remove and what to keep.

Remove points in PowerPoint
PowerPoint will remove any of the areas in pink once you press Keep Changes. 

In the screenshot above, you can see how I used this tool. I set "Keep" areas for the logo text and icon. Once you press Keep changes, PowerPoint will remove the background from your image.

Work With PowerPoint Picture Tools

Last up, let's take a look at some of the Picture Tools to adjust and change the look of your PowerPoint images. These tools change the appearance of the original image.

Make sure that you have an image selected. Click on the Picture Tools > Format option on the ribbon again to access tools to adjust an image. Let's take a look at several key tools.

1. Corrections

Click on Corrections on the left side of the ribbon to access two key tools: Sharpen / Soften, and Brightness / Contrast. If you've worked with any image editing app, these terms and effects are already familiar to you. Sharpening can enhance the detail of an image.

Hover over any of the preview thumbnails to see the effect on the image, and click to apply it.

Image Adjustments in PowerPoint
Apply sharpen/soften or brightness/contrast image adjustments in Powerpoint.

Brightness and contrast will adjust the exposure and overall impact of an image. Try these out if you need to bright up a dim image.

2. Color

The Color dropdown lets you adjust the appearance of color in your image. You can use the Color Saturation options to reduce or increase the intensity of color (including converting an image to black and white.)

Image color adjustments in PowerPoint
Select the Color dropdown with an image selected to apply color adjustments.

Click on any of these thumbnails to apply the selected effect. The image will adjust to the selected color style.

There are other tools like the Artist Effects dropdown and Style presets to add decorative frames. Try out these as well to add some creative flair to an image.

Recap and Keep Learning More About PowerPoint

In this tutorial, you learned about PowerPoint's built-in options for modifying and working with images. There are enough features to bypass opening Photoshop or Pixelmator to edit an image right inside of PowerPoint.

This tutorial gave you the skills to work confidently with images in PowerPoint. There are plenty of other presentation tips and tools. Check out these Envato Tuts+ tutorials to keep learning more:

We also have plenty of professional PowerPoint templates with great design options. Browse through these curated collections: 

How do you work with images in your presentation? Do you find yourself editing them in another app, or using PowerPoint's tools? Let me know in the comments.

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